Representative democracy pushes politicians to act irresponsibly over the long term, direct democracy promotes responsibility in politicians and voters.

The basic difference between representative democracy and direct democracy is the amount of decision-making power in the hands of the politicians and in the hands of the voters.

In a representative democracy, the elected politicians have in their hands all the decision-making power; they pass laws, regulations, policies, decide with which countries to have commercial or peace treaties, taxation level, the size of the armed forces and on and on. In representative democracies, except deciding their own election or re-election, the politicians decide everything else and, short of massive demonstrations and riots to scare the politicians, the people can do nothing.

In such countries, the voters only have power to elect, they do not ace any institutionalised power to decide laws, regulations, taxation level, treaties, etc.

In representative democracies, all voters can do is go, vote and hope for the best. But we all know what the promises of politicians mean. All the people can do is vote and hope for the best.

Because politicians have so much power, one thing they can afford to do is to violate their electoral promises and also to introduce actions they never talked about during elections.

Because politicians in representative democracies have so much power, the economic, political and social lobbies know that to influence the laws, regulations and policies of the country, all they have to do is lobby the politicians. They lobby them by meeting with them but, even more important, they lobby them with their actions. For example, lobbies know politicians need donations from business, rich organisations and rich individual. They also need loans (from the big banks).

Such dynamic creates an obligation on politicians to return the favour in some manner. It can be by passing a law that benefits the lobbyist or the clients of the lobbyist. It can also e by tailoring calls for government contract to the capabilities of the business of donors.

But to get elected, the politicians need votes, lots of them.

Because in representative democracies, politicians have so much power, at election time they fight like hell to win.

One way to increase their chances of winning is through promises to the voters. Those in power seeking re-election, like all others, they promise a lot; “if you vote for us, we will do this and this”, but also do something else. They do things that most voters like, and they do it right before the election. For example, they can enact a new law that gives people cash if they do this or that.

They may say to the citizens: “if you vote for us, we will institute a system of grants of x thousands of dollars for those buying a house, of if they instal highly efficient heating systems in their homes”, etc.

They may also say: “The government will give people in apartments grants so that they will buy a home, etc.”

In other words, to gain power, politicians in representative democraciesdo things to please the voters.

Such promises, as wells as the many social programs, can cost more money that the country can afford, but the affordability issue will not show up immediately.

If the government needs more money than it has, it goes into debt of deficit. The crisis created by excessive spending will not happen immediately. And when it happens, the politicians will be out of office and will not have to pay the consequences of his or her irresponsible actions.

In other words, the politician finds himself/herself in a situation where he has to behave irresponsibly to win the election.

Perhaps the worse consequence of the dynamics of representative democracy is that it also fosters the development of irresponsible voters. It does so by appealing to the desire many voters have for immediate gratification.

Another effect of the aggressive fight for power in representative democracies is political polarizations; the parties rip each other to pieces and this polarises the followers.

In a direct democracy, electoral fight are much less aggressive because the politicians have less power.

Because of that, polarisation in a direct democracy happens to a much smaller extent.

So, if you are tired of politicians practically bribing voters, if you are tired also politicians that to win election do things that threaten the economy and the political instability of the country, if you are tired of politicians using public money to seduce voters with promises and actions that are bad for the country, then you must support direct democracy.

We know from the example of Switzerland, the most prosperous and politically stable country on Earth, that direct democracy works.

Direct democracy also has another enormous benefit; it forces voters to vote responsible for deciding issues, because the crucial difference between representative democracy and direct democracy is that, in a direct democracy, the people vote to decide the issue. In a direct democracy, the voters can not blame the government, precisely because the people are the decision-makers.

For example, the mess the US and in so many other countries, would not happen if the US and the rest had Swiss-style direct democracy at all levels.

Victor Lopez

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